Pa. Officials Follow Monkey Thief's MySpace Page to S. Md.

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

For most fugitives, life on the lam involves keeping a low profile. Not so for Steven Labore, who fled Pennsylvania after he and a pal were charged with stealing two monkeys.

Labore, 19, was tracked down this month in Southern Maryland after the prosecutor handling his case discovered that he had posted his phone number and part of his new address to his publicly accessible MySpace page.

"I just punched it in," said Chad Schneider, an assistant district attorney in western Pennsylvania's Washington County. "He had his phone number and his address, so I figured I'd go get him."

Labore had eluded authorities since he missed a court date in March. He was arrested shortly after the monkey theft in November and had been free on $20,000 bond.

As police tell it, Labore and his friend Michael Naylor set out to steal marijuana that was rumored -- falsely -- to be growing in a greenhouse on the property of the Wild World of Animals, an animal education and entertainment business in Eighty Four, Pa. There was no marijuana, but the pair found something else to steal, police say.

"Yeah, jackpot: There's no weed, but there's monkeys," Schneider said.

The thieves successfully removed two monkeys, Gwendolyn and Lucy, from their cages before a third, Kenya, raised a commotion, police said.

"He wasn't having any part of it," said Grant Kemmerer, co-owner of Wild World of Animals. "I'm surprised that he didn't tear them up."

The monkey thieves bolted.

Kemmerer said he got a call about eight hours later from Labore's mother, Jennifer Schmidt, who said she wanted to return the monkeys. Schmidt did not fully explain how Gwendolyn and Lucy had come into her possession but said that her son's friends had stolen them, Kemmerer said.

Police investigated. Labore and Naylor were soon arrested and charged with burglary and other related counts.

Naylor, 19, of Rices Landing, Pa., pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced in July to two to five years in prison.

A woman who answered the phone yesterday at Labore's Lexington Park home and identified herself as his mother declined to comment.

Labore is scheduled to be returned to Pennsylvania this week, Schneider said. In the meantime, he will be held at the St. Mary's County jail, where he has been serving a 30-day sentence for driving on a suspended license.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company